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Philanthropist Dr Raymond Sackler has passed away (97)

American philanthropist Dr Raymond Sackler has died at the age of 97. Dr Sackler was a psychiatrist and developer of medicines, with which he made his fortune. He was a significant benefactor for Leiden University over many years.

Since 1998 Dr Raymond, with his wife Beverly, has made important financial and other contributions to the promotion of teaching and research at the Leiden Observatory and to human rights and American Studies at Leiden University. He also contributed to the development of specialist research instruments in Leiden, such as the NeCEN electron microscope.

The sad news of his death was announced by Purdue Pharma, the American company of which he was co-founder and where he spent his working life developing new medicines.

Research chair and laboratory

It was due to the generous support of Dr and Mrs Sackler that Leiden University was able to establish such facilities as the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Chair in American Studies and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics. There is also an annual Sackler lecture organised by the Leiden Observatory and given each year by a renowned astronomer, and a Sackler Scholarship for excellent students at Leiden University. Last year, Thomas Hammarberg, former Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, delivered the sixth Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture on Human Rights. This event marked the annual celebration of International Human Rights Day, which was proclaimed in 1950 by the United Nations.

Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau

Dr Sackler, one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists, was given an important royal distinction in the Netherlands in 2004 in recognition of his support for science:  he was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Dr Sackler and his wife Beverly provided what for the Netherlands is regarded as unique financial support to the university world, facilitating prominent and highly valuable research and teaching which, due to lack of funding, would otherwise not have taken place. As a mark of gratitude to their benefactors, the Leiden Observatory named an asteroid after Dr and Mrs Sackler, the 7690 Sackler asteroid.

Relationship between  nations

Dr Raymond Sackler supported Dutch (and particularly Leiden) science because of his conviction that promoting culture and science promotes a good relationship between nations and societies.  

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